Once a week I go for a walk with a friend of mine.
We figured that if we don’t work out for the rest of the week, at least we did it once!
We aren’t fitness people. I have been doing Pilates, yoga, skating and half-marathons, and I got winded on our walk this morning. It was pathetic.
A couple weeks ago we were on the last stretch of our walk, talking about projects we were working on and projects we had abandoned and the guilt associated with the abandoned projects…and suddenly were in quite a pickle: there were two very large dogs wriggling through their flimsy wire fence and running directly toward us.
Now, the problem with this is twofold: One, we have a couple of very angry farm dogs running our way. I was searching my brain with a heaping spoonful of haste to try to remember if I had ever learned anything in the Girl Scouts about dog attacks.
Nothing came to mind. Which was super helpful. On the plus side, I know exactly how to place a tourniquet on my wounds and how to fashion a stick into a splint around our broken limbs…and I figure that’s something, right?
Two, we were in a field (we’re rather rural out here). So there was no house to run to, no door to knock on, no backyard to climb into in order to escape. Bonus: no sticks around either.
Without thinking, and without having time to think, my friend and I reacted the exact same way: we braced ourselves for the dogs.
As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have 5 kids. My friend is a little ahead of me with 12 kids. We both have raised dogs for service training. Neither of us take guff, rubbish, gibberish, excuses, whining or sniveling. You just can’t in our situations, or you will get nothing accomplished all day. Lunch with this many kids involves, “I’m sorry you don’t like your lunch. You’re eating it anyway.” We are project managers for our households, juggling meals, laundry, school, free time, extracurricular activities, quality time, family time, brushing teeth time, bath time, finding everyone’s shoes time and some one-on-one time with the husbands (hey, it’s pretty obvious by now we like our men. A lot.)
So, it was interesting to me that our first instinct was not to run, or find help, but to take the dogs head on.
In a crisis, you find out what kind of woman you are: we were warriors.
Weekends are always fun, but the armor gets heavy after a while. (link)
And I’m not even kidding, after a minute or two the dogs went home. They gave up barking and jumping around us in a circle, and they ran happily back through their (crappy) fence back to their owners.
I’m glad we had some more distance to walk, because that adrenaline rush was wicked. I definitely had to take a few deep breaths and go, “Well, THAT happened.”
Running into conflicts in life always bring about reactions you don’t anticipate. I’m not scared of dogs, I’m not really scared of bears…but I also don’t want to be attacked by either of them. Who wants to be attacked by anything, really?
The interesting thing about conflicts is that you will probably react differently to conflicts in different circumstances. I had no trouble grounding myself and bracing for the dogs, but if I am put into a situation where I see a woman being sexually intimidated by a man…I freeze.
That is the cowardly thing to do, and I hate it.
On one hand, I will sit there listening to it thinking, “This can’t seriously be happening.” It is just so obviously inappropriate, I second guess myself. Am I really seeing this??
On the other hand, I am making an effort in my life to not pick as many fights…and I sit there going back and forth, “Do I destroy this man, or do I go get help…what is the right thing to do??” I think I might be overreacting to this, I think I might be picking a fight I won’t win, I think I will have the tables turned on me…what do you do?
With people and conflict, I think I am a wimp.
I don’t think I am always a wimp. There are more than enough times that I have stood up for something or someone, and it usually doesn’t go over well…but really, who cares? That’s kind of the point of standing up for them.
“If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.” -Gen. George S. Patton
I don’t know if I have ever been brave. I have faced many demons in my life, and they all have a different, twisted face that shows up in real life. It may be that the absence of bravery has built trellises of strength within my soul, keeping me steady in the face of failure. I hope I never lose the fear of failure in my life. There will be times when I will need to stand, when someone else cannot; or speak when they have no voice. I don’t believe I will be able to avoid failure, since it is the balance by which we judge success.
But I hope when I do succeed, it will be for the person who needed a friend to stand by when the dogs were the loudest. And maybe we can be brave together.